I've been asked to appear on a panel at the 2008 Havant Literary Festival. To put that another way: people are going to be asked to pay money to hear what I have to say. This is, to put it mildly, a strange feeling.
Here's the official blurb:
Sat 27 Sep 1.00-3.00pm
'How I Got Published'
Local authors Tim Stretton (The Dog of the North, Dragonchaser), Tim Bouquet (Cold Steel) and Tom Cain (The Accident Man, The Survivor) describe their individual journeys on the road to getting published. They will share the benefits of their collective experience and take questions from the audience. Chaired by local maritime crime author, Pauline Rowson. Numbers strictly limited - book early!
Tim Bouquet and Tom Cain were on panels at the Chichester Literary Festival last year. Both spoke engagingly about their books, and no doubt will do so again. There will clearly be an expectation that I do the same...
In a masochistic kind of way I'm looking forward to this. There's a mental adjustment I need to make, that to most people in the audience my experience is something they aspire to achieve. I don't know if it's revealing a trade secret to say that I don't feel any different to the ranks of unpublished writers--the job is still the same: trying to write the best fiction I can. Matt Curran has frequently drawn the distinction between wanting to write and wanting to be published. They aren't quite the same thing. For me, writing has always been about the stories, and not what happens to them afterwards. So if I have any free advice ahead of the Havant Literary Festival, it's this: throw away all your "How To Write the Perfect Query Letter" books. Writing--and even getting published--isn't about the confections you use to decorate your work. It's about getting that work right - whatever "right" means for you. And if that doesn't attract a professional publisher, that doesn't make it a bad book; and The Perfect Query Letter is unlikely to have helped you much.
Looking forward to seeing some of you at Havant in September.